Best Advice of 2017: Words of Wisdom from Eight Successful Contractors

From how to manage employees to buying equipment, we look back on some of the best pieces of advice contractors shared in the pages of Dig Different magazine in the past year
Best Advice of 2017: Words of Wisdom from Eight Successful Contractors
Jacob Sabin, president of Greenfield Services

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As is typically the drill when the latter part of December arrives and the new year approaches, it’s time for some reflection. Here we reflect on some of the industry knowledge that has appeared in Dig Different magazine in 2017. A lot of contractors are featured in the magazine over the course of a year, and whether they have decades of doing the trade or are still fairly new, there is often something to learn from their experiences:

We probably have hundreds of guys doing excavating in western Washington. The only way to compete is to outperform everyone else. And we do that by investing in quality equipment and keeping it well-maintained, as well as hiring quality employees. ... I try not to have to reinvent the wheel. I’ve found out that at the end of the day, a key factor in success comes down to taking care of people to the best of your ability.” — Jacob Sabin, president of Greenfield Services in Puyallup, Washington, on his formula for the company’s growth. Read more on Greenfield Services.

“Your image going to the job makes a big difference. You don’t want some guy pulling up in a Camaro with the trunk open with 20 shovels in the back and people piling out with pot-leaf T-shirts on. You wouldn’t gain trust that way.” Jay Flositz, co-owner of Coastal Cable Construction in Ormond Beach, Florida, on making sure crew members are presentable when going to a job. Read more on Coastal Cable.

“The best way to get good employees is to train them yourself. They’re like a lump of clay that you can mold yourself. Sometimes more experienced workers are almost a detriment because they’re so certain that they know how to do things, but it’s not how we do things.” — Bill Heinselman, owner of Express Sewer & Drain in Rancho Cordova, California, on finding the right employees for the company. Read more on Express Sewer & Drain.

“It’s the best form of advertising out there. After we wrapped the trucks, we started getting calls left and right. We went from working mostly in San Diego to working all over Orange County. Those wraps are one of the main reasons we grew so fast.” Mike Arme, owner of Underground Solutions Inc. in Escondido, California, on the wraps he puts on his company’s air excavation units. Read more on Underground Solutions Inc.

“We also pay cash for just about everything. I don’t like to stick my neck out on anything, so I don’t buy something until I know I can afford it.” — Donny Schlomka, co-owner of  Schlomka’s Vac Truck Service in Hastings, Minnesota, on his way of buying new equipment. Read more on Schlomka’s Vac Truck Service Inc.

“We just beat doors down and called on everybody we could think of. We just kept staying after it, and word-of-mouth referrals just sort of spread from there. All we did was get out there and work hard, and keep after our goals and do the best job we could for customers.” — Joel Colgrove Jr., owner of REM Directional in Boligee, Alabama, on how he and his father started and grew their company. Read more on REM Directional.

“I hate to say no if we get a call to do something. So we keep adapting to customers’ needs. Keeping our services diverse is a big growing point. It puts us out there.” — Seth Dixon, owner of SRD Excavation/Construction in Williston, North Dakota, on why he has added more services to his company’s offerings. Read more on SRD Excavation/Construction.

“I just don’t let anyone tell me I can’t do it. I just do it. I’m not sure where it comes from, but we do pretty well. Every company I have feeds another business, and that one feeds another.” — Chuck Lang Jr., owner of CST Utilities in Grove City, Ohio, on what leads him to enter markets where he has no prior experience. Read more on CST Utilities.


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